Cassopolis will begin football practice Monday under the direction of new head coach Dan Purlee. (Leader Publications Photo/SCOTT NOVAK)

Archived Story

Purlee new Ranger football coach

Published 4:30pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012

CASSOPOLIS —When practice for the 2012 football season begins Monday, Cassopolis will have a new head coach.

Former assistant and 1992 Cassopolis High School graduate Dan Purlee takes over for Bernard Thomas, who resigned after just two seasons.

Purlee, who graduated from Grand Valley State University in 1997, has spent the past 13 years as an assistant football coach under Pete Anderson, Andy Hubbard and Thomas.

Purlee was named as Thomas’ replacement this past spring.

“I want to continue our winning tradition,” Purlee said. “But I also want us to win the right way. I want to develop a good work ethic and discipline in our kids.”

Purlee takes over a program that has seen its share of success, both when he was a player and over the past few seasons.

Cassopolis has qualified for the playoffs each of the last six years under the direction of both Hubbard and Thomas.

Purlee said he learned a lot from both of the former Ranger head coaches and will use what he has learned and add it to his own coaching philosophy in hopes of taking Cassopolis to that next level.

“I would like to get that first district championship,” he said. “Andy instilled a lot of discipline and a lot of toughness to the program. He was very knowledgeable and very organized. Most of what I learned came from Andy.”

Purlee actually “put his name in the hat” when Hubbard left for Hartford, but took himself out of the running when Thomas applied for the job.

“I wanted to have the opportunity to work for coach Thomas. What an opportunity that would be to work along side a legendary coach who I have respected for a lot of years. He was a master motivator.”

The Rangers haven’t been able to get out of the second round in the post season thanks manly to perennial state powerhouse Mendon.

“Every kid in our program understands about Mendon,” Purlee said.

The numbers remain strong at Cassopolis as Purlee expects between 50 and 60 players when fall practice begins Monday. He said that between 25 and 30 players showed up for summer workouts.

The Rangers will kick off the Purlee era Aug. 24 when they play host to Lawton.

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